Orrick and Pillsbury Law Firms Are in Merger Talks

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP said they are in talks about merging the San Francisco-based law firms.

“Our firms are in exploratory discussions about a possible combination,” the law firms said today in a joint statement. “These talks are serving to confirm the great respect our firms have for each other.”

According to the American Lawyer trade publication, Orrick, a 977-lawyer firm, had $866 million in gross revenue last year, making it the 27th wealthiest firm in the country.

Pillsbury, with 609 lawyers and $561 million in gross revenue last year, was ranked 56th in terms of wealth, according to the American Lawyer rankings.

The announcement is consistent with accelerating consolidation in the legal industry, said Kent Zimmermann, a Chicago-based legal consultant for Zeughauser Group LLC.

“It seems like everyone is talking,” Zimmermann said. “There are more firms now that are interested in pursuing a combination. Some firms do deals out of necessity because they’re weakening and other firms do it to double down and become the best in their core areas of focus.”

58 Mergers

U.S. law firms have entered 58 mergers this year, compared with 60 in all of 2012, according to legal consultant Altman Weil Inc.’s MergerLine.

In June, London-based law firm Norton Rose LLP and U.S. law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP completed a combination to create a 3,800-lawyer firm with more than 50 offices called Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

In March, SNR Denton effectively combined with international firm Salans and Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain to create Dentons LLP, a 2,500-lawyer firm with 79 locations in 52 countries.

Jaime E. Bruck, a Pillsbury spokeswoman, and Orrick spokeswoman Adi Weisman declined to comment beyond the joint statement.

Orrick has 25 offices in North America, Europe and Asia, with more extensive coverage in Europe and Asia than Pillsbury, according to the firm’s website. Pillsbury has 15 offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Abu Dhabi, according to its website.

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